Monday, March 26, 2012

Visiting Family at Pebble Hill Plantation

I snuck away this weekend and it couldn't have come at a better time. I drove down to Thomasville, Georgia to see my cousins Wallace and Debbie.  Wallace has managed Pebble Hill Plantation there for many years now and after visiting, I can see why they wanted to stay for so long. It's just beautiful!

This history of the town is just as interesting as the current cultural climate and because of time limits (I have to get back to work on my thesis!), I won't go into it too much right now, but let's just say that Thomasville has a history of drawing outsiders in. I'm sure that having such lovely hosts didn't hurt my welcome, but the same could be said for today. Everywhere I went, I was greeted with kindness and hospitality. Wallace and Debbie are the sweetest people. They made me feel at home, and what a beautiful home it was. Here are a collection of images from my visit.

Pebble Hill Plantation

Pebble Hill Plantation 

Driving in to Pebble Hill Plantation

The pond on Pebble Hill Plantation (in the far right background)

Love that Spanish Moss

Sweet Grass Dairy's Cheese Shop on Broad Street (This organization is a local Dairy) Yum!!!!!

Inside the Sweet Grass Dairy Cheese Shop - It was hoppin'!

Firefly! This was my favorite shop onThomasville's Broad Street. (Sweet Grass was a close second.)

I loved the window displays in Firefly!

When Debbie took me into Firefly, my favorite shop on Broad Street (Thomasville's Main Street), I instantly connected to the atmosphere. The items sold were unique and artistic, but it was mainly the displays that caught my eye. I loved the window display of wooden branches, hanging from the ceiling. The branches were wrapped in green yarn at different places and jars or bird cages hung from the bottom.  In each jar was a light, so it acted as a chandelier. They had a brighter version of this just above the check out desk.  Brilliant!

A lady named Nan owns this store, started a restaurant and plans events.  Goodness knows what else she's involved in. I imagine she's quite woven into the fabric of her community. One of her most recent events, a wedding, was covered by Garden & Gun Magazine! When I told her about the things that James and I want to do back in OKC, she was so supportive and encouraging.  She gave me her card and some great advice. I told her that I would be back. I look forward to seeing what else this great woman achieves! It's wonderful to meet other women who have set creative goals for their lives and who do everything they can to reach them.  I felt exactly the same way about Debbie. She has accomplished so much in her life and was really encouraging to me when I spoke about my thesis. She was also a huge support during a time of unsettled anticipation in my writing process and time away from home. 

I needed some support this weekend, so the getaway couldn't have come at a better time. I'm so grateful and can't wait to go back someday. Hopefully it will be soon! Now back to work!!!! Happy Monday to all. 

Saturday, March 24, 2012

For Allen

The past few days have been hard. A close family friend passed away three days ago and I have felt sad over the fact that I am not physically present to lend support to my parents and this man's family. I've known Allen since birth, and my parents met him when my dad went to dental school with him back in the 60s.  There are about six couples from "The Dental Group" that have been getting together at least twice a year for over forty years, and all of the children of these people grew up together.  Although spread out over Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana and New Mexico, the couples have remained close. I've always admired their friendships. They have continually supported each other, whether to celebrate a wedding, birth or other fun occasion, or to comfort each other during a hard time.  I can't tell you how many times I've sung Ave Maria or the Lord's Prayer at a wedding or a funeral that was related to this group in some way.

I loved taking road trips to visit Allen, Bettye, Mark and Amanda when I was younger. I could always tell that we were getting closer to Cisco, Texas because my dad would relax and laugh more and more the nearer he got to Allen. Bettye is one of the most beautiful and giving people I know, and a great cook too. We had a lot of laughs at meal times. Mark was my prom date my junior year of high school and I remember feeling like a princess because he was so handsome. Mark, Amanda, my sister, my brother and I always had fun playing and swimming together and I loved going to Cisco in the summers because it was just fun to be together.  I have always felt that our lives were intertwined and that mine was improved because of their love.

Yesterday I was reviewing a letter that Charles Fraser, a Charleston artist and friend of Edward Greene Malbone, wrote after Malbone's death.  It was published in the Charleston Times, May 27th, 1807 and was the first tribute to appear publicly. This excerpt sums up exactly how I feel about letting go of people that I love.

"There are several events which, from the importance of their nature, and the particular constitution of the human mind, can never lose their claim to its deepest interest. The impressions they produce, are not weakened by the frequency of their recurrence - although they come unsolicited, their influence is felt with undiminished strength. Such is the premature fate of men of talents - a subject that has ever filled the breast with solemn and affecting sympathies; sympathies which will attend it as long as man feels, and is mortal."

As long as people have had the fortune of close and lasting relationships, loss has been felt when a friend or family member passes away. As Fraser wrote, the pain of these experiences is "not weakened by the frequency of their recurrence." This is part of the human experience. It doesn't matter how many times you go through the process of letting someone go. It just never gets easier, and sometimes I feel that when one person I love leaves, it's a reminder of all of the others I have lost in the past, as well. I think it's normal to feel that way.  Loss has a way of making us take stock and evaluate our own lives and that includes reminiscence, but in my own attempt to make peace with this part of life, I'm learning that we don't have to stay in that place.

There is always temptation to wish for earlier times, times when everyone you love was still with you. The only thing that I've found that has really helped me deal with loss is being present. Living right in the moment helps me to let go of the past. Of course, being present in this moment also means that I have to embrace and honor my feelings of sadness, so it's really hard. But I try to let those feelings go. I have to keep bringing my thoughts back to this moment instead of living in the past or worrying about the future. I have to sit right inside of every second and realize that I have everything I need to be alright, even when I'm sad. And because none of us is guaranteed even one more second, I want to relish in each moment and relationship that I do have.

I can remember after my grandmother died, my sweet friend Phillip gave me some comforting words. He said that when people leave, whether from death or other circumstances, he tries to say, "I'm just glad that I was fortunate enough to have them in my life for as long as they were there. My life is blessed and improved because of them and I enjoyed every second with them." At that time, I couldn't imagine getting to that point, but I really listened to Phillip. The truth is, as Fraser inferred, it never gets easier but we can give ourselves permission to simultaneously hold these people and memories in our hearts, while being at peace with letting them go. It just takes time to go through that process and to find that balance. One thing I know for sure is that we should be loving and patient with ourselves as we move through it. 

I love you, Allen. Tonight, I went to hear the Preservation Hall Jazz Band and the Dale McCoury band play together at a theater here in Savannah. Their two encore numbers were "When the Saints Go Marching In" and "I'll Fly Away." While everyone was clapping and dancing in that theater, I just stood there, smiling; tears flowing. It was as close as I could get to a ceremony for honoring you and letting you go. You were a great man, Allen, and I'm grateful for all of the memories and the times that I did get to spend with you. I enjoyed every second. 

Wednesday, March 14, 2012


I've been back in Charleston since Monday, researching at the Gibbes Museum of Art. The people there have been so welcoming and generous! It's also been really fun to finally see, in person, the pieces I've been researching! After reading so much about them, it's a bit like meeting movie stars. I know about their love lives, their work lives and the wars they endured. I now know so much about Charleston's history too. I connect to the people who are portrayed on these little portrait miniatures and think about how they felt. I also think about Edward Greene Malbone and how his talent and amiable spirit allowed him to document the history of cities with such beauty, style and grace. I can see why so many people wanted him to paint their portrait.  To see them all together in this box has me imaging how those that knew each other interacted and went about their days. It's always comforting to me, whatever I'm going through, to think that I'm not alone in what I feel, and to know that, throughout time, others have had the same hopes and dreams for love and happiness.

I only get so many hours each day because people on staff have to be there while I'm working and they have a small staff so I work when they are not in meetings and away from their desks.  Yesterday I was able to work from 9:30am until 2:30 pm and I didn't want to waste a second, so I worked straight through without a break.  I was ready to rest when I left.  Today, because of meeting schedules, I might only be allowed to work from 11am-2pm so I'm going to make the most of it again. I'm just grateful for any time they can give, and yesterday the director of collections said that they would let me come back if I didn't finish so I am incredibly fortunate.

When I was through working yesterday, I ate a late lunch and then went back to the hotel to work/rest before meeting B & S for dinner.  I did get some pictures while I was out so I'll share them here! I think you'll be able to tell that I'm looking for inspiration for my flower boxes. :)

Broad Street

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Thesis: Portrait Miniatures of Edward Greene Malbone

Eliza Izard, Edward Greene Malbone, 1801

Tomorrow morning I'm going back to Charleston. I've had an appointment set for months with the Gibbes Museum of Art and can't believe that the day is finally here! I'm thrilled about the fact that I'm going to have the opportunity to hold in my hand and to view, in person, the pieces I've been studying for so long. Edward Greene Malbone painted these precious little watercolor portraits on ivory.  They were commissioned before the days of photography and provided those who possessed them the opportunity to gaze upon the face of their loved ones when they were apart or after the sitter had passed away. My thesis focuses on the portraits Malbone painted in Charleston.

Malbone was known (and still is) as one of the best artists in this genre. He was quite prolific in his output, especially when you consider that his career only lasted about twelve years due to the fact that he died at 29 years of age. He passed away right here in Savannah, in the home of his cousin, Robert Mackay.  Below is a picture of me at his grave in Colonial Park Cemetery (taken last November).

The irony for me is that I didn't remember something special until I had already picked my topic and started my research.  When I found out that his cousin was Robert Mackay, I remembered that name from a quartet of books that I read about 15 years ago.  It was the Savannah quartet by Eugenia Price. Price chose actual people for characters in her historical fiction novels and after reading all four books, I felt like I knew these people. So to find out that I had chosen an artist that had ties to a family that was featured in the books and who lived here in Savannah supplied one more piece of proof that this topic was meant for me. I loved those books and will read them again after I've finished writing my thesis.

I've only been here for a little over a week, but I have looked at the pictures of those who are special to me countless times.  It helps me to feel close to these people. Can you imagine how it would have felt to be separated from your loved ones without pictures, cell phones, the internet and all of the images we collect on our computers? These portrait miniatures served the very intimate purpose of keeping loved ones alive in the hearts of those who held them. They also provided evidence of wealth and an elite status, among other things, but for the purpose of this non-scholarly blog post, I'm going to stick to themes of love and affection.

The portrait of Eliza Izard (above) was painted in Charleston, South Carolina in 1801. At that time, she was around seventeen years old and still living at home with her parents. Eventually, in 1803, she would marry Col. Thomas Pinckney, Jr., who also had his portrait painted by Malbone. This is one of my favorites and the one I most look forward to seeing tomorrow. Malbone was known for capturing the beauty and even an emotional quality of his sitters, and this one is a great example of both. I'll share more of the stories behind the portraits later, but for now, I need to get some beauty rest! I'll be up EARLY tomorrow. I really can't wait. It feels a little like Christmas!

Saturday, March 10, 2012


My days in Savannah so far have centered around finding a routine. When I was teaching elementary school, I found that the kids were able to find freedom to think, create, explore and try new things when all of these things took place within the safe boundaries of a routine.  Adults aren't that different, especially when in a new place. Ironically, it's as if there's safety in it and that "security" allows for risk taking.

So what do I do with my days? I started off my time here by studying as soon as I woke up because I was waking with a feeling of panic, thinking that I had to use every single second to work on my thesis and that I was behind!  But then I realized that it isn't healthy to start a day that way. I was here in beautiful Savannah but I wasn't experiencing life. I also had a hard time focusing. I was just sitting in my apartment in front of the computer.  So I decided to start every morning with some kind of exercise.  Now I go to yoga or walk around the park first thing every morning.  This allows for me to see some of Savannah's beauty and release some natural, stress reducing endorphins.  This helps! Not only do I feel better, but my focus lasts longer when I'm studying. And really, you can't work all day long without breaks.  Your work will suffer and you will too.

Scene from Forsyth Park

I've also been cooking more.  This apartment has come with the most beautiful kitchen! It makes me want to cook and clean! Haha! Also, I know that what I put in my mouth has an impact on my energy level and my ability to work longer hours. So I've been eating lots of fruits, veggies and lean meats. 

"Sandwich Cam" Haha!

Of course, I've also visited some of the great restaurants around here.  My sweet landlady took me to dinner the other night at The Bohemian Hotel. The restaurant, Rocks, is delicious! Their rooftop bar is where I took this image of the sunset.  I love it!

View from Rocks on the Rooftop

And when I'm done for the day, I usually try to either get some rest or find something fun to do at night. Sometimes I'll keep working if I'm in the flow, but it's different every day and I try to be sensitive to what I need. Last night my friend Suzy, whom I've known since the 8th grade, arrived.  She drove up from Miami to see me and I'm so happy she's here. It was great to have a girlfriend here to talk to and we had some fun last night.  The Savannah Stopover Music Festival is happening here this weekend.  It's a place for bands to stop and perform on their way to South by Southwest in Austin.  I hadn't heard of any of them except for Grimes. Grimes is Claire Boucher, who plays keys, sings and plays programmed electronic music.  She has a band, Born Gold, that backs her up as well. The event took place in the Jepson Center on their interior steps.  The lights, fog, music, and movement, all set against a pretty stark and contemporary setting, made for one incredibly modern and surreal experience.  It was a perfect stress release! It was also fun to stand amongst all of the SCAD students who I knew were loving the music.  There was one girl getting down with her bad self right in front of us and I just had to soak in all of the fun energy. Here's a picture from last night and a video of one of her songs that I think will represent the performance better than my words can.


I have to say that claiming my time and being sensitive to the ebb and flow of my motivation/energy has helped me to be more productive. And not feeling like I have anything to apologize for is great too. I have a feeling that when I'm finished with this thesis, I will find that I'm more in control of my time and, in turn, my life. I like the slower pace that I have here and I'm realizing that there is nothing that says I have to live my life any differently when I get home.  In an effort to do what I can for my community, I've given up time that I should have been taking for my own health and mental peace. I understand that starting the business after I graduate is going to mean long hours and really hard work, but I think there's something to the idea of taking it slowly and working methodically so that I can still enjoy life and feel good.  Because in the end, what we do with our lives is important. It's the gift we give to the world, but I don't believe that you have to stress yourself out and worry in order to give your best.  In fact, I believe the opposite. 

I think that a gift given with love, peace and self-control are the best. That's what I want to give. And I think you have to slow down and live more simply in order to do that.  I'm working on it!

Friday, March 9, 2012


Savannah and Charleston have been exactly as I expected, wonderful and beautiful. I can't get over how at home I feel here.  I am convinced that there is something in my biological, emotional and spiritual makeup that resonates with this location.  It's a good thing too, because I've been fighting a bit of a battle within myself since I arrived. I've experienced the kind of self-doubt and fear that I always do when I'm writing.  I don't know at what point in my life I heard (either from someone else or myself) that I wasn't smart or good enough to write anything of value, but it has been stuck in my head for a long time.  Ironically, I can remember when I first went back to school in 2004 that I thought I was doing a great job.  So it's been sometime since then...maybe when I entered graduate school.

Having come to art a little late in life, I felt behind when I compared myself to my other friends in class.  They all sounded so smart and their vocabulary had me writing words down in the margin of my notes and looking them up when I was out of their sight. Terms such as "hegemonic" or "ontological." What? Haha! But instead of being excited about learning new things, I was intimidated.  This is a problem. It's not how it's supposed to be! I had the best teachers and they weren't the ones who were telling me I couldn't do this.  In fact, they have done nothing but the opposite, but I have told myself that I wasn't up to snuff with the rest of the students.  NOT TRUE!!!! (And it wasn't the other students who were sending this message to me either.  They have been great! In fact, I feel so grateful for the kind of support we've given to each other...and the friendships that have come out of it all.)

I think we can be our own worst enemies and that's sad.  So today, I replace old mantras of "I can't do this" with "I CAN do this." I AM doing this! I've been given the opportunity to study something I love and to live in a  place that I love. My words have value and my ideas are worth expressing. I love myself and all that I have to give to this world.  Nobody else has what I have inside me and nobody else can do what I can do, because nobody else is me.

I know, without a doubt, that my greatest gifts to give this world are love, kindness and strength.  Without loving and believing in myself, I am hindering the fullness of those gifts and I don't want to do that anymore.  So anyone out there who thinks that they need to tell me that they have doubts or worries about my ability or work ethic can just keep that to themselves.  I've heard enough of that...from my own voice and yours.  And if I'm going to squelch that inside me, you need to do the same. I won't listen to you anymore, anyway, because there are plenty of people who have shown me the opposite.

The message I want to give to those who have expressed concern for my ability and work ethic (and to myself when I'm weak) is this. You have no idea how destructive and detrimental you've been to me. It's as if you and I, combined, took a week of this experience away from me.  I know full and well that it has been my choice to hang on to those words and let them sink in, but I'm letting them go now. All I need from you is support and encouragement...even if you don't feel that way.  Don't give me your worry or concern.  If you really want to give me something that will help, give me good energy and words saying, "I know you can do this,"  Because I can do this. I am doing this. And in reality, what you're projecting on to me is your own fear for yourself.  You never learned how to overcome the belief that you had to worry about things in order to get them done.  Let me enjoy my own process and let me find wonder and beauty in all of the discoveries I'm making right now because they are changing me for the better and I know that it will translate into good things in my work.

Thank you.

Saturday, March 3, 2012


Today was one of those days of ups and downs.  I woke up, ate breakfast and pulled myself together enough to walk to Forsyth Park, which is two blocks south of my apartment, because there is a Farmer's Market there on Saturdays and I had heard great things.  I wasn't disappointed. There was a great selection of produce and meat. I bought carrots, green beans and some ground beef. I'm thinking lunch tomorrow is going to be deeeelicious!

While I was walking toward the market, a couple of old men on a park bench said hello and then said, "OKLAHOMA CITY?" because I had my Thunder shirt on. (I came to represent!) Then they asked me if I was a basketball fan and I sarcastically said, "Just a little bit." Haha! We had a good, uplifting conversation and then I went on my way. I don't know why I get a kick out of talking to strangers, but I do. I guess there's just something nice about giving and receiving encouragement to and from people you don't know.  To me it seems more genuine because neither one of you has anything to gain from it, other than improving each other's day. 

And words seem to really be affecting me today. After a great and productive afternoon, I was proud of myself for things I had accomplished, both in my studies and working on music for the Paseo Arts Festival.  One leader of a band that I contacted thanked me for calling and asking them to return again this year, saying that it had made his day. I could tell that he had been feeling less than stellar and I could relate. I've been feeling lonely and secluded today, so I understood how important words are and how they affect you. Today I offended two friends that I actually really care about because I was so busy and overly sensitive, so I'm pointing a finger at myself here. That contributed to feeling blue, as well, but I received a great email from my friend, Diane, lending much needed advice, and then I got a call from P. Both helped pick me up out of my funk.  

You never know just how much your words affect people. I guess the point of this blog entry is to remind myself to be as kind as possible.  I saw a quote recently that said, "Be kind. Everyone is fighting their own battle." Amen. 

Friday, March 2, 2012

Welcome to Savannah!!!!!!

After a 12 hour day on the road and then 6 hours of driving the following day, you'd think I'd be exhausted, but when I arrived in Savannah yesterday I felt just the opposite.  In fact, when exited Interstate 16 onto Liberty Street, I was so excited to be back that I found a huge surge of energy! It was a good thing too because I had forgotten all about the time change that occurred when I crossed the state line between Alabama and Georgia. This put me into town with about an hour to check into my apartment, unpack and drive to Trustee's Theater to meet a new friend. So proud of myself on that one. (sarcasm)

The apartment manager gave my extra ticket to the Wyton Marsalis concert to one of his friends, Jason, aka "Pork Chop." Haha! And Pork Chop was so nice! He grew up here in Savannah and seemed to know everyone.  He kept introducing me to people on the sidewalk, in the theater and afterwards too. I LOVE that southern hospitality! And can we talk about how awesome Wynton Marsalis and the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra was? It was a great way to start the month that I have here in my favorite place. The show was celebrating Wynton Marsalis' 50th birthday and was a retrospective of his own compositions. His talent is inspiring!

After the show we went to the American Legion building just south of Forsyth Park and had a hamburger and cocktails. That was one delicious hamburger and the drinks were only $1!  One of Jason's friends came to join us and again, he kept introducing me to people there too. It made me feel better about being here alone.  I felt like I could talk to people just like I can back in OKC, which is a good thing, because anyone who knows me, knows I like to talk. :)

Jason has helped to plan the Savannah Stopover Music Festival that's happening next week. This is a festival where bands play on their way to South by Southwest in Austin. What a smart idea! Talking to him about all that goes into organizing performances was incredibly helpful to me. I asked him all kinds of questions and got some new ideas for ways to improve my process for the Paseo Arts Festival music. I have hopes that I'll improve every year in that process, but I have a feeling that next year will be the best year yet because I'll have more time to devote to it than I have this year or last. School has to take priority this year.

Today, I went to the grocery store and got the basics for my kitchen.  Oh how I love my kitchen here.  It's so cute that it makes me want to cook and clean.  That's impressive. Haha! After I made lunch and got some instructions from my landlady and the apt. manager, I went for a walk.  I texted way too many pictures to friends and posted some on my Facebook page, so you'd think that I wouldn't post them here too, but I'm going to. Haha!

My apartment is the ground floor of this house.

The church directly across the street

Monterey Square is right by my place! It's my favorite square in Savannah!

My street

Forsyth Park Fountain

Tonight I studied, made dinner and watched some television. Pretty tame for a Friday night, huh? I didn't muster up the courage to go out alone, but I think that will change soon.  I needed a night to rest anyway, so it was good to stay in. I plan on resting a lot while I'm here. I realize that I haven't been taking care of my health and wellness and it's starting to affect me, so there's no better time than now to learn how to be quiet and alone without feeling like something is wrong. I can't wait to see what this month holds for me.  I know it's going to be productive and fun, but I also think that it will be transformative if I allow it to be. I think the key (as a wise lady told me today) will be to disconnect and take care of myself. I think she's right. (Thanks Courtney.) So I'm going to try to do that starting right now.